On average, an acre in a tropical rain forest is home to ten times as many living species as any other environment. This means that the genetic material of a tropical rain forest is richer and more diverse than that of any other environment, both within a given species and across the variety of species. A tropical rain forest is a reservoir of genetic diversity, and as such it is very important for humans. Humans are more likely to find a valuable new medicine, a new kind of food, or a new pest-resistant or disease-resistant strain of an already familiar food in a tropical rain forest than anywhere else on earth.
As a result of amendments to the USA Foreign Assistance Act, USAID missions are required to prepare background assessments of tropical forest and biological diversity conservation needs for each country that receives financial assistance from the USA. These studies are used to update a mission's Country Programme Strategy Plan (CPSP), upon which the USA bilateral assistance programme is based. These assessments address major and geographically- focused problems and contain the following information on: (a) laws and institutions affecting biological resources, host government agencies, NGOs and international institutions; (b) the status and protection of endanger species; (c) conservation efforts outside protected areas, including managed natural ecosystems, impacts of development projects, and conservation facilities (seed banks, zoos, botanical gardens etc.); (d) conservation of economically important species; (f) major issues in tropical forest and biological diversity conservation; and (g) recommendations and proposed activities. At 1993, 39 assessments had been produced.